CCTV use in schools

CCTV system in schools and classrooms

CCTV security camerahas been present in our schools and classrooms of at least since 2008-2009. Although it is still unclear exactly how many schools currently have CCTV facilities, we can be sure that the number will only increase in the coming years. CCTV in schools and classrooms is a very emotional topic. In this article we will briefly analyze the arguments for and against (advantages and disadvantages) of the use of CCTV within schools.

CCTV placement advocates in schools and classrooms generally point to the following arguments; security and vigilance (teachers, students and school property are safer), which CCTV also helps build trust, as well as identify poor teachers and those "disturbing" children. Deterrence; that the use of CCTV discourages students, teachers and visitors from the school from antisocial or illegal acts.

Although I can understand the use of CCTV on the perimeters of a school, in order to deter / identify those who wish to enter a school, damage and steal property. I have real concern about how CCTV has been implemented. For example, in 2010 a case involved cameras are installed in children's toilets in a wooden school in Chelmsley (as a security measure). Neither the parents nor the children were informed of the use of CCTV and the cameras appeared without warning. Understandably, parents were very unhappy about this invasion of their children's privacy.

Of course we want our children to be safe and secure within our schools. Although at the same time we need to ensure that they are within a relaxed free learning environment. Schools are not prisons, and possibly the greatest use of CCTV in the classroom does not produce a condusive environment for learning. There is the question of our civil liberties and the psychological impact this can have on teachers, students and parents.

There have been few studies examining the use of CCTV in schools, but the most notable survey conducted by Dr. Emmeline Taylor of Salford University made reading very interesting. In 2009 Dr. Taylor surveyed 24 comprehensive schools in northwestern England and discovered that 23 had installed more than 20 cameras. 85% of teachers have reported the use of CCTV in their schools and one in 10 said they had even placed cameras in toilets. In the name of security it was also reported that some schools were introducing other techniques such as fingerprint detectors, metals, electronic identity cards, eye scanners and facial recognition systems. Surprisingly, some of the schools are collecting images without informing teachers, students or parents. Dr. Taylor also felt that he had not found any evidence that the rise of cameras in schools was providing schools with a solution to the problems (crime, intimidation, smoking, absenteeism) CCTV should fix.

Dr. Taylor concludes; "The effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and detecting crime remains extremely doubtful, and its impact on more trivial behaviors such as absent play has not been measured. CCTV is often attributed with numerous benefits that often there is no evidence to suggest that can deliver in."